We have all faced life confined in one way or another. Some may have struggled – yearning for social contact – while others may have felt inside a bubble due to COVID-19. Coping with COVID-19 anxiety in life after quarantine may be a challenge for many.
So, what happens now since most restrictions have been lifted?
You may be excited to socialize in person again, or feel scared about what will happen once the rules are relaxed. Having a whole range of feelings is completely understandable. Emotions such as fear, apprehension, confusion, agitation, and anger are normal responses to an uncertain and rapidly changing situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone and has altered the way we live. Covid-19 anxiety is real! Humans have been exposed to something that threatens our health and safety for quite some time, and that threat has yet to be completely eliminated. When we recognize this and normalize it, it can be very reassuring.
1. COPING WITH GOOD AND BAD DAYS
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop and change, you are likely to experience ups and downs as we all move into the “new normal.” It is important that you give yourself space, take time and most importantly, give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel.
Be authentic, open and honest with yourself and with those around you about what you need to take care of yourself. Having the foundations in place is a good way to prepare and cope with changes.
This includes making sure you have your own support network, which may include family and friends, colleagues, your immediate supervisor, counselor, or support through a special assistance program. Practicing self-care regularly and proactively puts you in an excellent position to build and maintain resilience through a changing period.
2. DEVELOP A NEW ROUTINE
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work, how to parent and socialize, and as we approach a “new normal,” we want to start a new routine. Developing a new daily dynamic can help prepare you for the next stage of COVID-19 and for anticipated changes in our day-to-day lives. You may want to keep certain activities built into your week, or lifestyles that started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. PRACTICE KINDNESS AND SELF-CARE
Being kind to ourselves and practicing self-care is essential, especially in uncertain times. Remember that taking care of your body and mind helps you maintain resilience. Self-care is a very individual activity, so it’s important to think about what it means to you and communicate your needs to the people you love. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, have regular “downtime,” stick to a routine, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Staying connected with those around you (family, friends or colleagues) is essential in these moments.
4. ADDRESS SOCIAL ANXIETY
Those who experience social anxiety about restrictions can start small and take gradual steps. Maybe catch up with just one person once a week, adding more people each time to increase socialization more regularly or with larger groups of people. You may feel that your level of social anxiety is interfering with your ability to function each day, so it is important that you seek support from your doctor, counselor, or psychologist. You can develop a personal strategy to help you relieve anxiety and deal with this moment in a safe and healthy way. And while social interactions can feel a bit awkward at first, remember that you are not alone. Remember that many people will probably feel the same way as you. Being really open about your expectations on how to greet each other can be a helpful way to feel a little less awkward, whether it’s a tap on the elbow, or just saying hello.
5. GET CLOSER TO OTHERS
It is important to reach out to the people around you, regardless of how you think they feel, to show care and support towards them. They may be experiencing Covid-19 anxiety as well. If you know someone who is struggling to cope with the level of accelerating change and uncertainty, you could:
Ask them some questions, such: How are you facing this moment? I know that things have been changing very quickly, is there anything I can do to support you?
Listen carefully to what they say to you, be compassionate and without making judgments. They may not need a solution, but more so someone who listens to them.
Encourage them to practice self-care regularly. Maybe you could help them find what they need to feel good and encourage them to achieve it.
You may want to help them consider what they can and cannot control. Focusing on what is under our control can be helpful in times of uncertainty and change.
Encourage them to seek support, either by talking with you or through the support of a professional.
6. ACCESS PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES IN YOUR AREA
You are not alone. If you live in New York State, there are many programs and services available to those struggling with Covid-19 anxiety; from financial assistance to counseling. Click on the links below for assistance in NYS.
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